Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources

Updated 6 years 1 month ago

Back in Phase 1, I created my list of 'Big Questions' to guide my research. This is Phase 2, where I will be contacting an expert to further investigate my topic. 

The keywords that I used during my research were 'Flying Tigers.' I did end up adding a few words such as 'AVG' or 'Claire Chennault.' Most of my searches had the words 'Flying Tigers' in them because it is the basis of my research as well as my topic. If I had searched Claire Chennault alone, I would not have had a search as narrow as Claire Chennault and his work with the Flying Tigers. Same with 'AVG.' Obviously a search with just 'AVG' would be very broad and ineffective, so I added 'Flying Tigers.' I also did a few searches about WWII and the Chinese, American, and Japanese positions during the war, but only to get a sort of grasp of what was going on.

It is important while researching to make sure the information is valid. I think the websites I used were reliable, because I looked for the author and if that could not be found, I would look for the publisher and then decide whether or not I would use the website. I know that I listed Wikipedia and in my sources, but I did not base my whole research off of those. Wikipedia was used simply to find what an acronym stood for. The article showed the author as well as her past experience. For the websites that seemed somewhat questionable, I compared the information to the other websites and if they matched, then I would use that information. The publisher and/or author were easily found on most websites, all but Britannica and the Linden Centre. Encyclopedia Britannica was a source from the SAS Databases, and I have been taught to use it as a reliable, trustworthy source. As for the Linden Centre page, I assume it was written by one of the Lindens, and since they live in Xizhou and get to learn about the Flying Tigers firsthand, I think the information is valid.

The expert I chose to contact is named Ronald Heiferman. He is the author of a book called the Flying Tigers: Chennault in China. I chose Mr Heiferman because he is not only a professor of history, but also a director of Asian studies at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. His email is if you want to contact him. 
Here is the email that I sent to Mr Heiferman: 
Hello Mr Heiferman, 
My name is Kelly, I am fourteen years old, and I am an eighth grader at Shanghai American School. In about two weeks, I will be going to Xizhou, Yunnan (near Dali) with 14 other students from my grade as a part of my school's Microcampus program. Each student has picked a topic that they want to study for a month while we are in Xizhou, and I have chosen the Flying Tigers. Here is the link to my work: 
I have created a list of questions about the Flying Tigers, and I would appreciate if you could take a look at them and provide some feedback.
Relationship between Xizhou and the Flying Tigers
1. How did the Flying Tigers affect Xizhou's people during WWII? 
2. Are there any specific memories of experiences with the pilots?
3. What impact did that make on the person/people?
4. What kind of relationship did Xizhou's people have with the pilots? 
5. What influenced that relationship? (Language barriers, daily schedules, etc.)
6. Was interaction between the villagers and pilots restricted? 
7. Did the townspeople see the Flying Tigers as beneficial? Why or why not?
8. What was life like during WWII?
9. Did the Flying Tigers have the same impact on Xizhou as they did in surrounding areas (other places in Yunnan or along the Burma Road)? Or were they only around Xizhou? 
10. How did the Flying Tigers feel about living/fighting in China? 
I know most of the questions are specific to Xizhou, but anything about the Flying Tigers in China would be very helpful. 
Kind regards, 

Mr Heiferman sent me a response on 10 April 2014, a day after I sent the email. He gave me some information about the Flying Tigers in China as well as the interaction between the pilots and the locals. Here is the email Mr Heiferman sent to me:

Dear Kelly,
                I am not able to answer your first seven questions.
                That said, let me try to address questions 8,9, and 10.
                For those who went off to war from the United States, many of them very young men, the war was both an adventure and an ordeal.  Many of these boys had never travelled far from home in the U,S., let alone experienced different cultures abroad.  Relatively few Americans served in China with the Flying Tigers and other units, but for many of them China was a strange place indeed.  Almost none of them could speak or understand Chinese  -- any dialect – nor did they know much about China.  The pilots did seem to “enjoy” their work if that is the proper term.  That said, some of them were shot down or did not survive the war.  And conditions in Sichuan and Yunnan were far from comfortable.  Heat, humidity, pests, and disease took their toll on the men and their morale.
                The interaction between Americans and the local populations in places like Xizhou was limited but cordial and after the war many of the pilots and their support crews had fond memories of their service in China.  It is more difficult to gauge how the local population responded to them, but perhaps you can find more about that during your visit.
                I know this isn’t much information.  That said, I hope it helps a little.


Three-to-Fives are interviews with local Linden Centre staff and Mr Tafel and Ms Mai. They are three to five minutes long with three to five people. The purpose of these are to develop an extensive list of contacts that will help us find information about our topic.

My first three-to-five was with Mrs Linden. I chose to interview her because she has been in Xizhou for many years. My fellow Microcampus students suggested her to me because they said she knew a lot about history. 

The second person I interviewed was Ms Mai, who is the cohead of Microcampus along with Mr T. She has been here several times with other Microcampus groups, and knows the locals in Xizhou. Ms Mai was able to give a brief explanation on the locals' life story and how they would be able to help me.

Mr T was my third interviewee, as well as head of Microcampus. I chose him because he has been to Xizhou numerous times, and is very familiar with the locals. He has also been to Xizhou many times with the other Microcampus groups. 

Possible Contacts

  • Mr Zhao, lives parallel to us (Linden Centre), whose family compound was the home of several radar/radio men
  • The residents around the Zhao family compound
  • Yang Aigan, security guard for the Linden Centre
  • Yang Sumei, the head of housekeeping at the Linden Centre
  • Yang Biaoqi, a horse cart driver
  • Mr Duan, east village, former governor officer, close friend of T
  • Mr Dong, a writer who is the author of a book on the history of Xizhou
  • Mr Yang, a former lawyer (Cookie Monsters - Hannah's group's service learning partner)
  • Mr Yang, a former chemist
  • The elders at the retirement home
  • Mr Linden, head of Linden Centre
  • Frank He

Currently I have twelve contacts listed above, but I do not feel that I have enough contacts to keep me busy for the coming weeks, although it depends on how many elders in the retirement home are willing to talk to me. As for the other contacts, hopefully they can introduce me to others that will be an additional help to my project.

The Linden Centre library has a few Flying Tigers books, and I have checked out a book called "Flying Tigers" by Daniel Ford. It is an updated and revised edition of Ford's previous 1991 text, summarising the Flying Tigers' experience and story, with quotes from the AVG veterans. I have just started reading the book, but am looking forward to seeing what information I can get.

In this phase, I reflected on my Phase 3 research, contacted an expert, as well as developed a list of local contacts. Next is Phase 3: Interpreting Information, where I will be gathering information from local contacts and seeing how that information can help me, as well as looking back on the old information I had gathered and revisiting my Big 10 questions from Phase 1. 

Hello! My name is Kelly and I am fourteen years old. I have an Australian passport although I was born in Hong Kong and lived there for four years before coming to Shanghai. Xizhou is so beautiful and Microcampus was an incredible experience. I hope to visit again soon!